Lori’s Diner

It had been a long time before this since I had been to Lori’s Diner.  The Powell Street location was one of the first restaurants I went to as a San Francisco resident, and such, although I lived in Park Merced, it was my go-to breakfast spot for a while.  I didn’t know any better.  Muni was a mystery to me, and the Sunset seemed unbelievably daunting, so one train and one street were about what I could handle.  Eventually, as I grew more comfortable with getting around the city, I found cheaper, tastier and closer places to get my grub on and Lori’s slipped out of my restaurant rotation.  Then I got kind of snobby about it, like, why would I go eat that over-priced tourist food?  I did go back a couple times, mostly with friends, most notably (in my memory anyway) for a pretty dang good ice cream sundae.  These visits were few and far between though.  So it had probably been a good two years since my last Lori’s experience when I headed to the Mason St location with Jessie and Justin after a movie.

The atmosphere was a bit sterile, all white walls, bright lights and shiny stainless steel.   The fact that it was a smallish space with most of its tables (and indeed, its barstools) occupied helped take the edge off. 

The menu is fairly straightforward Americana.  Lots of burgers, hot and cold sandwiches, fish and chips, you know the drill.  There are a few salads and dinners and even pasta to round things out.  I ordered a Cadillac burger, which is just a plain old cheeseburger.  I got mine with Swiss cheese.  The burgers come with fries, but you can substitute something else for an extra dollar or so.  I was tempted by onion rings, but ended up with garlic fries.

This was awfully tasty.  The burger was well cooked, everything stayed in the bun, the cheese was melted perfectly and the garnishes were fresh.  The fries were some of the best garlic fries I’ve had, and I’ve tried my hand at quite a few. 

Justin had a Cadillac burger as well, with cheddar cheese and a salad on the side.


Jessie got the chicken strips, which I’m always always tempted by on a menu but rarely indulge in.  These looked pretty delicious, what with the golden brown of the batter and all. 

So I surprised myself and really enjoyed my dinner at Lori’s.  And for about 30 bucks for three people, it was fairly affordable.  If you stick to the stuff between two pieces of bread section of the menu, I think you can get out of there without breaking the bank.  I reckon that in the future I won’t be so quick to take Lori’s off my list of acceptable restaurants in the Union Square area, which is good because that list is pretty short.  It’s always nice to add another entry. 

Lori’s Diner

336 Mason St


Hooker’s Sweet Treats

It was a lovely Saturday morning in the Tenderloin when I walked down the hill to meet Jessie and Justin at Hooker’s. 

Before this place opened the space belonged to another little coffee place, Chez Momo I think?  I only went once, and Steve got coffee but I didn’t. 

Hooker’s was making caramels before they opened this cafe, and they’d become pretty popular locally.  When word got out that they were opening a coffee spot, people got pretty excited.  Pretty, pretty excited (that’s my Larry David impression.  Get it?).  So excited that they tried to convince themselves that Hyde and Ellis is in a much nicer neighborhood than it actually is.  Many referred to it as a “Tendernob cafe” and some even attempted to claim it was Nob Hill.  I don’t generally like to quibble about this kind of stuff (ha ha, jk, of course I do) but I think once you’re below O’Farrell it’s extremely difficult to deny that you. are. in. the. loin.  period.  But being in the Tenderloin proper takes nothing away from how nice a cafe the Hooker’s peeps opened up!

It’s a pretty fucking adorable spot.  I have to begrudgingly admit that I like it, because I like cutesy shit, and this place really appeals to my asthetic.  It’s fancy coffee, so it could easily go hipster sneery, but they keep it pretty low key.  Instead the vibe is warm and inviting. 

The whole store is similar in size to farm:table, and there is the same communal table situation.  However, I could handle it this time, since I wasn’t there by my lonesome, but with a couple friends.  Probably I would be uncomfortable if I were alone.  In fact, that’s the title of my autobiography; Mel Roska, Uncomfortable at Any Speed.  Yeah, I don’t like it either.

You order the french press coffee and you get your french press and this little timer so you know when it’s ready.  You also get this cute little enamel pitcher of cream. 

The coffee is good.  I’m suspicious of all these roasters that have been popping up, I find the coffee to be very hit and miss.  At Hooker’s they serve Sightglass, which I hadn’t tried before, but I’ll add them to the list of acceptable brews. 

Here’s what you get if you order the bread pudding (ugh please excuse the horrible and unappetizing picture.  just awful.)

This is not something I ever need to eat by myself again.  Certainly not for breakfast.  But holy moly, that’s some good stuff.  Sweet to be sure,  though I enjoyed and I’ve been having issues with things being “too sweet” recently, so unless you absolutely have no sweet tooth you should be good with this. 

Justin and Jessie split a savory biscuit. 

There were mixed feelings about it.  I didn’t try it, but as I recall it sounded appealing, I just had too much bread pudding happening to even attempt any other food. 

Look!  It’s adorable, I told you.  It’s almost a little much…like, I can see that it’s a little much.  I can understand that.  I just love it; I can’t help it!  I haven’t been back to Hooker’s since this first visit, but in writing this post I’ve certainly convinced myself the time for second visit is now.

Hooker’s Sweet Treats

442 Hyde St


Cafe Mason

Cafe Mason, you are really weird.  You were not at all what I expected based on what I knew about you.  Which was mostly just that you were a 24 hour restaurant called Cafe Mason that presumably catered to people staying in the nearby hostels.  I expected a cross between Lori’s and Original Perfect Hamburger.  Instead I found this

Surprisingly swank.  I also found this

A charmingly (?) hand illustrated menu.  A menu that was much more extensive and eclectic than I could have anticipated. 

The service provided at Cafe Mason was busy and overfriendly but well-meaning.  The variety of accents made me suspect that it was staffed by foreign visitors perhaps from the aforementioned hostels.  Most notably there seemed to be some romantic tension between our female server and the male water guy.  Ooh la la.

So the menu was what one might call “continental.”  The standard soups, salads and sandwiches, but also pasta, French and Italian inspired entrees, and burritos and fajitas.  It was a bit overwhelming.

Jessie had a caesar salad (sorry for the godawful picture)

Justin had some sort of stuffed chicken thing

I had what I think they called a Croque Vegetal.  Basically a veggie and cheese sandwich but egg battered and pan fried like french toast.  Kind of weird, but basically good.  They stuffed a good amount of different types of vegetables and cheeses into one sandwich.  And I remember the little salad being nice. 

Cafe Mason would be a good place to take your grandparents, because it’s clean and that whole continental cuisine thing seems to belong to their era.  It would be a bad place to take your grandparents because the service is a little iffy and it’s a bit pricey for what it is.  In terms of me taking myself there again; probably not a happening thing.  I’m definitely not going there for Mexican.  Pasta and chicken are not things I go out for, I’d make that stuff at home if I wanted it.  And if I wanted to go somewhere with a wide selection of sandwiches, salads, and burgers, I’d probably hit up Honey Honey instead, because it’s closer to my house, they have larger portions, and they also have crepes.   Also, I find their more casual ambience more appealing.  So thanks for one pleasant meal, Cafe Mason; presumably our last in the foreseeable future.  Farewell.

Cafe Mason

320 Mason

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